Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pancetta and Pea Risotto


Oh Jamie Oliver, you always inspire me. Whether it's from "Jamie at Home" , "Jamie's Food Escapes", or even his "Food Revolution", he inspires me to be adventurous and try new things.

On one of his recent episodes of "Jamie's Food Escapes", he traveled to Venice where he made this incredible array of risottos from one basic recipe. I decided it was high time to rid my fear of making risotto and dive in to the deliciousness.

Basic Risotto Recipe (adapted from Jamie Oliver):
32 oz chicken stock (I used Progresso Tuscan Chicken Stock, yum!)
1 TBS butter
2 TBS olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 head celery, finely chopped (confession, I left this out and it's still fine!)
14oz of risotto rice ( I get it in the bulk bin at Whole Foods, it's called Arborio rice)
2 glasses of white wine (about a cup to a cup and a half)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 TBS butter
1/4 cup grated parmesean cheese

1. Heat the stock. In a separate pan heat the olive oil and butter, add the onions, garlic and celery, and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.

2.The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the wine and keep stirring — it will smell fantastic. Any harsh alcohol flavours will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence.

3. Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and almost massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes. Taste the rice — is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Don’t forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.

4. Remove from the heat and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This is the most important part of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it becomes outrageously creamy and oozy like it should be. Eat it as soon as possible, while the risotto retains its beautiful texture.

Variations :

  • I added cubes of pancetta while the veggies were cooking, then added blanched peas at the end.

  • You could use leftover rotisserie chicken with some steamed asparagus.

  • crushed tomatoes with sliced basil

  • roasted butternut squash for the fall

  • sautee some sliced cremini mushrooms in marsala wine and mix in at the last minute.

  • Get creative!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Simple Pleasures

A tasty breakfast and a good book to read on a Sunday morning is one of my favorite things! Poached eggs with asparagus and chorizo.